Stigma, shame and social isolation: Periods in Swaziland.

Most women can remember their first period. I can: I was staying with my step-grandmother, with my dad and his wife. We went to a pharmacy to buy pads, which were massive and gave me the impression that I could expect to lose a lot of blood – which thankfully, I didn’t. When I got home to my mum, she gave me a big hug and said (slightly tearfully) “You can have a baby now!” I was 11, so this was not exactly comforting, but the intention was good and I was thankful even then that I was able to discuss it with her openly.

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7 unique challenges homeless women face — and what you can do to help

Uncertainty, struggle and stigma are just some of the threads that knit together the shared experiences of the homeless community.

But for women who are homeless, there are several unique challenges only they know: What it's like to have a period without access to supplies. What it's like to monitor your behavior due to fear of sexual assault. What it's like to be pregnant and not have the services you desperately need.

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Menstruation Still Holds Back Women and Girls

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Last week, UK news reported that the charity Freedom4Girls had discovered school girls in West Yorkshire had no alternative but to stuff toilet paper down their pants to stop themselves from bleeding through their clothes at school. They couldn’t afford sanitary products and some were skipping school as a result. Freedom4Girls is a UK-based organisation that is focused on work in Kenya on this issue. However, since learning about these girls, the Charity has had sent some sample packs to the school and launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for research into the scale of the issue in the UK.

This is a sad and shocking revelation from an advanced economy. After the story made news, the UK’s Education Secretary Justine Greening promised to "look carefully" at the issue, in light of suggestions that tampons and sanitary towels could be given free to British pupils from low-income families. Since then, more than 15,000 people have signed a petition calling for schools to give out free tampons and towels, an initiative that has been adopted by a number of American universities and secondary schools.

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CEO supports menstrual dignity, education and homeless charity

The number of people sleeping rough on Britain’ s streets rose by 16 percent in 2016 to 4,134, the sixth consecutive annual increase, according to official government figures.

And the situation is particularly worrying for young people with a recent survey by the charity Centre point showing 15-25 year olds make up a quarter of street sleepers, a figure that’s expected to rise as the government moves to end housing benefits for jobless 18-21 year olds.

Leading charities and NGOs have voiced concern over the lack of support in the Spring Budget for organisations that focus on some of the most pressing social problems, including rising homelessness.

But the good news is the growing number of business leaders who are using their influence to help promote causes in dire need of recognition and funding.

Among these are brothers Sheetal and Ricky Kapoor, owners of The Edinburgh Collection Limited, a boutique hotel chain in the Scottish capital, and London’s Blackfriars Wine Bar, who are supporting several charity initiatives, most notably homelessness.

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Hello, World!

Top 10 inspirational Sikh Women in the UK

Sikhism is highly prevalent in the UK. Due to that thousands of Sikhs fought and died for Britain and the Commonwealth in the First World War and many remained in Britain once the war was over. In fact, according to the 2011 census, there are approximately 423,000 Sikhs resident in England and Wales.

Despite this, the British public still have a general lack of knowledge about what Sikhism is. I for one, have to admit before writing this article, my knowledge on the subject was patchy at best.

Even though, Sikhs who live in Britain have embraced British culture and show pride in being British. The British Sikh Report in 2014 showed that 95% of respondents were proud of their ‘Britishness’

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Why you need a #BintiBauble on your Christmas Tree

So what exactly is a #BintiBauble you might be wondering? 

Well, to celebrate Christmas, the charity Binti are decorating tampons with a Christmas theme. On Binti’s social media sites they are actually running a competition for the best homemade #BintiBauble and the Binti team will pick the best to be featured over Christmas. 

Binti will also be creating a Binti Christmas tree covered in #BintiBaubles and as part of their Christmas initiative will be donating sanitary products to an organisation that needs it. 

So why should you be decorating your tree with a #Bintibauble? 

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Sex education? We need Menstrual Education too!

Don’t get misled by the title. Of course, I think we still need sex education. In fact, sex education in my opinion needs an overhaul, especially in terms of becoming more LGBTQ+ inclusive, as well as catering for the new digital age. In the US, I know the situation is much direr than the UK with many schools still only teaching abstinence only programs. Actually, according to figures obtained from the Guttmacher Institute, in 2014, 76% of U.S. public and private schools taught abstinence as the most effective way to prevent pregnancy. 

However, I’m not here to talk about the desperate overhaul that sex education needs. I’m here to talk about something that was brought to my attention when talking to Manjit, CEO and founder of the charity Binti. What she introduced to me was the need for sex education and menstrual education to be separate topics. For anyone who doesn’t know, Binti, is a charity that is founded to bring dignity to women on their period, by providing women who do not have easy access to sanitary products with that access, and the charity also aims to tackle negative perceptions around periods and the shame that many women (or whatever you identify as) still feel with their period. 

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International Women’s Day 2017 in association with Binti International and Lyca Health

For more than a hundred years, International Women’s Day has been celebrated on March 8th around the world - and it’s finally, albeit slowly, gaining recognition in the UK.

Its profile has risen significantly in recent weeks following the wave of women’s marches, from Washington to Sydney, to protest the policies of Donald Trump, not least one of his first executive orders that strips US funding for health clinics in developing counties that provide abortion services.

This year is set to be a game changer, with a host of events taking place across London to highlight urgent issues facing women all over the world. And there’s one event you won’t want to miss - an evening of talks by Binti International and LycaHealth to celebrate IWD’s 2017 tagline BeBoldforChange.

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Let's talk...#BintiRosePose

That’s why we have the Binti Rose Campaign because we bring love to menstruation and get girls to open up and not be embarrassed about it.” 

-Manjit K. Gill (CEO/ Founder of Binti)

With a lot of different charities now running a lot of different campaigns in order to get attention to their cause, it’s hard to recognise them all. But there are some where a deeper meaning lies beneath the pose, or act the charity asks you to do. One such pose is the #BintiRosePose created by the charity Binti.

Binti, is a charity that strives to bring menstrual dignity back to women by providing sanitary products to women who do not have access to them, and by trying to smash the taboo about talking about menstruation. As having access to sanitary products is only half of the barrier facing women and their periods, as without an open dialogue, how can we start to properly help women to find ways to manage their period each month?

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India: A Map of its Menstrual Hygiene

Although, shame surrounding periods is a global issue that needs to be tackled; the problem reaches further for a lot of Indian women due to the lack of health advice they receive about their periods. Menstrual hygiene, so essentially how to keep sanitary during your period in India is grossly neglected. There are many reasons that have contributed towards why this is the case, but it is largely due to that periods are simply just not talked about. One such reason why periods are not talked is that they are linked too closely with sex, as menarche symbolises puberty and traditionally when girls would be paired off. And so consequently, these women suffer.

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Manjit K Gill is nominated for the 16th Asian Achievers Award

The nominations for the 16th annual Asian Achievers Awards have been unveiled. They include, stand-up comedian Romesh Ranganathan; National Karate Champion Myra NasimCaptain Naveed Muhammad MBE British Army; Charity Khalsa Aid; Barrister Jo Sidhu QC; entrepreneur Selva Pankaj - CEO, Regent Group; Manjit Wolstenholme from Provident Financial PLC and Harish Sodha- international Executive Chairman,Diversity Travel.

CB Patel, Publisher/Editor, ABPL Group said: “The mission of the Asian Achievers Awards is two fold - recognise and reward genuine high achievers in the Asian community. I know for a fact that the high esteem with which the community holds the awards stems from the overwhelming participation from all sections of the Asian community in the nomination process, and the free rein given by ABPL Group to the esteemed judges to uphold meritocracy and meritocracy alone. Those twin pillars have been foundational to the success of the Awards and the affection it has come to enjoy as the 'People's Awards'.

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#TheHomelessPeriod and the shame surrounding periods

Periods. Most women have to deal with them for a large period of their life, yet we still don’t really talk about them. Perhaps we don’t want to recall some of the quite frankly mildly traumatising period moments I’m sure a lot of us as women have had. But there is also something deeper there, and that is a culture of silence.

The campaign #TheHomelessPeriod is trying to break that culture of silence by making periods something that is talked about. The tagline for their campaign highlights the point perfectly:

“It doesn’t bear thinking about…and that’s the problem.”

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Putting The 'Men' In Menstruation

Living in a society in which the respectability of a family revolves around avoiding 'shame', and where the standard of this shame is based primarily around the behaviour of women, places an insurmountable level of pressure on men to control women. When the perception of men depends on the actions of the women in their family, it means that any social change for women cannot occur without their cooperation. This applies to menstruation as well. Such is the stigma of menstruation that the wife and mother of sanitary pad machine inventor Arunachalam Muruganantham once left him because of his work, which earned him allegations of perversion and mental illness.

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Think It's Just India? Menstrual Taboos Stain The West Too

Pardon the irony, but it's no secret that menstruation is a big secret in India. Not only do women have to find creative ways to hide this 'shame' from men, but the lack of education and information on this issue means that girls starting puberty often do not know why they menstruate. Women of India: be surprised to know that some of these issues are not unique to India -- menstruation is also a taboo in the West.

Sanitary products are taxed in the UK (it's dubbed the "tampon tax") like any luxury item, despite the fact that the government's healthcare service (NHS) provides free contraception and flat-fee medication which is free for the most vulnerable. This is based on the idea that no-one should fall below a certain standard. Yet there is no state provision for even the poorest menstruating women, and homeless women have to rely on charities to meet sanitary needs. The issue is not just at the top, it is deep-rooted in social attitudes -- such as a refusal to discuss this issue -- which then influence policy and taxation.

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Hindu Lawyers Association celebrates Sita's Diwali with Binti Period and Pink Ladoo

The Hindu Lawyers Association broke new ground on 24 November 2016 by celebrating Sita’s Diwali, supporting the interests of women in law and society.

The issue of gender inequality in the legal profession is particularly highlighted by reviewing statistics at entry level whereby over 50% of solicitors are female with a gradual decrease of female representation at each stage of promotion. It is generally considered that statistics do not show the overall picture of a situation however raise a big question as to what needs to be done for women to be promoted to senior management level. This event was organised to open up the conversation on this matter hearing the stories of some of the leading female Hindu lawyers in the profession.

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16th Asian Achievers Awards

It was a gloomy and rainy Friday. But nobody could wet the spirit of 800+ guests who gathered at the prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel in park Lane, to celebrate the glamorous 16th Asian Achievers Awards. Celebrities and guests walked down the red carpet as ushers in fancy attires waited to welcome everybody in. 

The success of the night was underlined with the incredible £180,000 raised for charity partner Indian Ocean Disaster Relief,which was founded in early 2005 following the devastating tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. In its 16 years, the Asian Achievers Awards has helped to raise millions of pounds for various charities it has supported.

Winners of the awards included, Selva Pankaj , CEO Regent Group, a London-based education skills and training development group ; Manjit Gill, CEO Binti, who runs a social enterprise that works tirelessly for women's causes in India and AfricaParalympian, Ryan Raghoo, a long jumper who suffers from cerebral palsy; and Lord Naren Patel KT who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

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International Day of The Girl

Today on International Day of the Girl, we celebrate the women and girls who inspire us to be better versions of ourselves.

MariaClaire.co.uk 

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There are 1.1 billion girls in the world today brimming with talent and creativity, a powerful force for shaping a world that’s better for everyone. But so often their dreams and potential are stunted by discrimination, violence and lack of equal opportunities.

Today is International Day of the Girl – a UN initiative that aims to highlight the realities of life as a girl across the globe and promote the rights of girls everywhere.

To celebrate a whole day dedicated to making girls and women’s lives better, we asked the Marie Claire team about the female trailblazers who inspire them to be better versions of themselves. Here’s what they said.

Oprah Winfrey. She has built a global brand around spreading her mantra of living your best life, no matter who you are, and is a great example of someone who has the ultimate mix of drive combined with compassion.

Miranda McMinn, Deputy Editor

Malala Yousafzai, for her courage and fearlessness in the pursuit of universal education for girls. She remains stubbornly committed to driving positive change without bitterness despite almost losing her own life just for speaking out.  Truly inspiring.

Andrea Thompson, Features Director

 JK Rowling, for creating the extraordinary world I spent my teens totally immersed in, before redistributing so much of the money she made to charity that she slipped off the billionaire list. Also, for providing a consistently right-on world view about pretty much anything on Twitter.

Lucy Pavia, Entertainment Editor

The late, great Sue Lloyd-Roberts who, throughout her thirty year career as a journalist, reported from some of the world’s most dangerous corners – from Syria to China – to expose human rights abuses. A wonderful storyteller and an utterly fearless woman’s woman.

Tracy Ramsden, Features Editor

Bobbi Brown for believing in herself and starting her own make-up brand with the $5000 USD she had in her bank account. The same billion dollar make-up brand that focusses on giving back to women through charities such as The Pretty Powerful Campaign for Women and Girls, which raises funds to support programs that provide them with education, job skills and work experience. Oh and she managed to do all of this while raising three children.

Natalie Lukaitis, Digital Beauty Editor

 Zianna Oliphant – the nine-year-old #blacklivesmatter activist who gave a powerful speech at a city council meeting (that went viral) about growing up black in North Carolina. 

Sophie Davis, Deputy Head Of Production

 ‘Yeonmi Park, for her courageous work as a human rights activist and for sharing her story about escaping North Korea. Her memoir is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.’

Lucy Abbersteen, Digital Editorial Assistant

Emma Thompson, because she is unashamedly very loud and very outspoken on women’s issues, perfectly summed up when she said: ‘What I feel is that we all need to speak up and a woman who has got a louder voice needs to shout very loudly indeed.’

Holly Rains, Digital Deputy Editor

 Manjit K. Gill, CEO of Binti. For dedicating her life to the game-changing creation of Binti: an empowering social enterprise that dispels the negative myths and taboos around periods in India and Africa, aiming to provide sanitary towels to all girls and women as a basic right.

Jenny Proudfoot, Features Assistant

Erin Pizzey, for setting up the first ever women’s shelter and dedicating her life to protecting vulnerable women even when she was faced with eviction, abuse and arrest.

Georgie Lane-Godfrey, Freelance Writer

 Stella McCartney for sticking to her ethical principles on animal rights in the fashion industry.

Gillian Brett, Acting Digital fashion editor

Katie Piper, for her courage in speaking out and helping others who have suffered burns disfigurements.

Claire Hearn, Chief Sub Editor

 My sister. For being a role model, unbelievably strong and everything a sister should be.

Abbie-Joelle Skliarsky, Beauty Assistant